The Boatman and the Scholar
LET ME SHARE WITH YOU ONE LOVELY STORY
that I heard from someone at a party.
It recounts of two men moving afloat—
a scholar and a man who rows the boat.
ALONG THE JOURNEY, A LEAF WAS FLOATING;
the scholar saw it and asked him rowing,
“Boatman, what can you say about the trees?
Oh, how they’ve served man through all centuries!”
THE BOATMAN REPLIED WITH A SHAME THAT’S SLIGHT:
“Sorry, sir, but I am no read, no write.”
The scholar rejoined, sounding like a gripe,
“Then you have wasted one-fourth of your life!”
IN A WHILE, THEY CAME TO A SHALLOW PART;
there underneath, rocks can be seen in part.
Of them, the scholar asked the ferryman,
“What can you say about the earth, the land?”
THE ROWER, UNPERTURBED, GAVE AN ANSWER,
“I know nothing of what you’re asking, sir.”
Bored, the scholar said, intending no strife,
“You’ve already wasted half of your life!”
DARKNESS FELL AND STARS SHOWED UP IN THE SKIES;
the scholar looked at them with dreamy eyes.
Though not expecting, he ventured again,
“Know anything about stars, the heaven?”
GRACIOUSLY, THE BOATMAN GAVE AN ANSWER,
“Nothing, sir, except to ply the river!”
Thwarted, the scholar blurted out a swipe,
“You’ve already spoiled three-fourths of your life!”
LOST IN DISCUSSION, BOTH GOT WHILED AWAY;
where they ought to land, they had skipped away.
And now they’re heading for a waterfall;
both must quickly jump off, lest they’re dead ball.
THIS TIME THE ASKING CAME FROM THE BOATMAN,
“What do you know about swimming, learned man?”
He said, “None!” Diving, boatman cried that’s rife:
“Then you have wasted the whole of your life!”
IN LIFE, YOU MAY NOT KNOW BIOLOGY,
archaeology, or astronomy.
In the grand scheme of things, they mean nothing;
what counts—you have the right skills for living!
Copyright © 2018
Rodolfo Martin Vitangcol
All Rights Reserved
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